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Integrating Economics into Priority Setting and Evaluation in Conservation Management

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To protect the world's threatened and endangered species, it is necessary that appropriate tools be available to assist decision-makers in achieving their conservation management goals. We examine the range of approaches used in priority setting and evaluation in conservation management by reviewing the conservation, economic, and environmental policy literature on the evaluation of conservation efforts. We then identify the circumstances under which these approaches are applied, assess the strengths and weaknesses of their use, and make suggestions for the further inclusion of economic factors in priority setting and evaluation. We found two major areas where evaluation and prioritization occur in conservation management: the initial prioritization for conservation action and the eventual evaluation of project and program effectiveness. The two main questions considered to date are (1) What and where are the priority areas or species that require conservation management? and (2) How effective are different management interventions and techniques in the conservation of areas and species? Because neither question addresses the need for measures that compare outputs or considers the costs of management, the full range of costs involved in making informed choices is not considered properly. We argue that decision-makers need to ask (1) Where should scarce resources be invested in conservation management? and (2) Which investments in conservation management have been the most successful? To answer these questions, decision-makers need to use cost-effectiveness analysis and cost-utility analysis to improve the conservation of threatened and endangered species.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Environment, Society and Design Division, P.O. Box 84, Lincoln University, New Zealand, 2: Commerce Division, P.O. Box 84, Lincoln University, New Zealand

Publication date: February 1, 2003

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